Monday, December 28, 2009
What screenwriting books do you recommend?
I get this question a lot from people. We all know there are entire sections at Barnes & Noble and Borders dedicated to the art, craft and business of screenwriting. I've read a great deal of these books. I have many great ones on my home library shelf that are creased, highlighted and worn from numerous readings.
So here are some of the best books on screenwriting that I have read and continue to revisit for tips and inspiration.
Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters by Michael Terno
The Screenwriter's Problem Solver by Syd Field
Screenplay by Syd Field
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
The Screenwriting Forum by RobTobin
Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge
Story by Robert McKee
Screenwriter's Master Class by Kevin Conroy Scott
Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter
From Script to Screen by Linda Seger and Edward Jay Whetmore
I also love and have re-read the following books about writing and filmmaking:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield
The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer
The Big Picture by William Goldman
Three Uses of the Knife by David Mamet
Hello, He Lied by Lynda Obst
You're Only As Good as Your Next One by Mike Medavoy with Josh Young
Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez
I highly recommend that as a screenwriter you dust off your public library card because it's a super place to get your hands on books without spending a fortune. At my NY Public Library, I can download books and listen to them on my iPod while I'm walking my dog or exercising, so take advantage of this wonderful free resource. Support your local library and book stores.
Enroll in the University of YouTube! There are a gazillion free videos about screenwriting, storytelling, screenwriters, and filmmaking on the Internet. Become a geeky Web student. You can spend hours watching, taking notes and learning from pros who are putting their advice, tips, and books all over the Internet. Take advantage of our Information Age and absorb what is out there. Some of the Web videos are lame: about marketing, self-promotion and making a buck off aspiring writers, but much of it is very good and useful.
iTunes is great. I download screenwriting podcasts and listen to them while riding the subway (better than hearing the guy next to me snore). I subscribe to Storywise by Jennifer Grisanti. Jennifer does some super interviews with major producers and writers in television and movies. I also like Pilar Alessandra's On the Page. Pilar covers a wide range about the business and craft of screenwriting with up-and-coming writers and established agents. Of course, I also never miss Jeff Goldsmith's podcasts with major screenwriters through Creative Screenwriting Magazine. Jeff is too cool for school.
I hope this helps in preparing you for 2010. It's important to stay up on everything out there from screenwriting pages on Facebook to Twitter to new movies to new media to books to e-books to seminars. But make time to write your script or play or book EVERY single day. Don't spend days, weeks, months and YEARS reading about writing... or researching... we still have to do the hard part -- writing. Make that your New Year's resolution come January 1, along with getting fit and learning how to play the guitar.
Somebody recently suggested writers buy an egg timer. Sit down and write for one hour with the timer on. It will focus you to write and put in the time. DING -- when the hour is up you can go about your business and eventually you won't need the timer at all -- unless you want to bake a cake.
Until next time.